Mon, 13 May 2019
WINTERBOURNE’s historic village pub has been saved from developers.
In rejecting the bid to convert it into homes, West Berkshire Council planners told the owner of the Winterbourne Arms that “a clear effort to reopen should be made”.
The decision was vindication for more than 230 villagers who campaigned to save it.
The council’s archaeologist stated that the Winterbourne Arms is “a historic beer house, with records of a publican in the 1881 census”.
But a design and access statement prepared on behalf of applicant Nicholas Roffe had stated: “The Winterbourne Arms is no longer viable as a business so is now permanently closed.”
However, a planning officer’s report noted: “The objections ... include assertions that the public house has been viable in the recent past and was operated successfully by the previous operator. Witness statements supporting viability were submitted by the previous operators.
The report said former owner Jan Simpson was obliged to close in April 2017 for personal reasons and that when she sold it to Mr Roffe “she states that the applicant had expressed an intention to reopen the Winterbourne Arms as a public house”.
The report continued: “Mrs Simpson states that the village had been supportive of the public house and that it had been used for community activities.
“The local community also highlight ... that the public house was highly utilised by local residents and visitors to the area which is located within the AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). As such, there is a strong element of tourism traffic accessing the facility ... the loss of the public house would create a vacuum in terms of a community facility.”
The officer also pointed out that “since the applicant bought the property, it would appear that there has been no attempt to reopen the business” or to adequately try to sell the pub as a going concern.
The report concluded: “This ... suggests that the building may not be genuinely redundant. The consultant indicates that it may be unlikely that an operator would be prepared to invest the sums necessary to restore the property and reopen as a public house. Given the previous interest and the fact that the applicant has not advertised the public house, this cannot be confirmed at this point.”
In rejecting the application, planners said a “clear effort” should be made to reopen the pub.